4 Things I Learned from My Mother About Fundraising
I remember the morning it hit me. I was sitting in a meeting with fellow March of Dimes executive directors, nodding in agreement and taking notes while a college advancement professional shared his wisdom about how to build deep and lasting donor relationships. The organization was planning to shift from its historical focus on special events to more relationship-based fundraising.
Then I had the revelation: My mother taught me much of what I needed to know about fundraising. Here are four things I learned from my mother that tie into fundraising best practices.
- Develop deep and lasting relationships
My mother kept in touch with new acquaintances and lifelong friends through phone calls, letters, visits and e-mails. She was always seeking ways to help others, and in turn she developed a strong network of friends.
- Listen intensely
She loved listening to her friends talk about their lives, dreams and goals. Friends loved her because she let them talk. She also would take notes to remember birthdays, children's names and other important information that deepened her relationships.
- Use the power of focus
My mother didn't multi-task. She put her mind to something and finished it. Studies show that the brain can't effectively multitask. From my childhood on, she stressed the importance of being prepared to finish a task once it is started — and paying attention to the people around you without being distracted.
- Show your gratitude
She would send a handwritten note within a day of receiving a gift or act of kindness. For special gestures, a note alone would not suffice. She would pick up the phone to say thanks, and she often handed me the phone, then stepped aside so I could call a friend or relative.
As I attended Association of Fundraising Professionals conferences, meetings and other educational opportunities, and read the fundraising classics and new resources, my mother's lessons have resonated over the decades. Why? Because she developed sincere, deep relationships — and isn't that what our wonderful vocation is all about?
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.